I was shocked, and even a little appalled yesterday morning when I found out that Uggie, the dog from The Artist was the first dog ever to get his paw prints immortalized in cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It just didn’t make sense. The little scamp is loveable and was amazing in The Artist, but dogs have a long and proud cinematic history. How could he possibly be the first one to put paw to wet cement?
My mind raced with with all the other famous dogs that deserved a spot in front of the historical theater more than Uggie. I knew I had to do something about this. What, I thought, is my greatest weapon as an Internet blogger? A list, of course! And so, as a form of general protest for all the famous dogs that came before Uggie, Flixist presents ten dogs that really should have their paw prints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
If there is a dog in this world that has done more for dogs in film than Air Bud (and subsequently his offspring(?), the Air Buddies) than that dog is doing a good job of not becoming famous. Previous to Bud dogs were relegated to saving Timmy from a well or being the thing that dies in an action movie. The genres they were shoehorned into pretty much started and ended with comedy. Bud and his Buddies opened this door wide open. Now dogs have starred in everything from sports films (Air Bud) to horror films (Spooky Buddies) and there’s no end in site to where Bud and the Buddies will go. Gangster Bud directed by Scorsese? Alien Buddies with Ridley Scott? They could even bring around a Western revival with The Good, The Bad and The Buddies if they wanted to.
There was a time when Rin Tin Tin was the biggest star in Hollywood. Not the biggest dog star, not the biggest animal star, the biggest star period. This dog drew more crowds than any human actor of his time and was in a plethora of better films than most of them. Rumor even has it that he was nominated for Best Actor at the first Academy Awards. More importantly he was famous when Grauman’s first started the hand/footprint tradition in front of their theater. What PR guy messed up so bad that they never had the most famous dog in the world put his prints in cement? Maybe whoever it was liked cats or something.
While not the first famous dog in movies Beethoven was really the only dog on the scene for a good chunk of the 90s. Even more impressive he took a pretty mediocre film and turned it into a Blockbuster franchise. Do you think that Charles Grodin carried the original Beethoven film and launched a plethora of straight to video sequels and spin-offs? Not a chance. It’s all about a big St. Bernard tearing apart a house, but also being lovable. That’s comic gold right there. Well, maybe comic silver. Bronze? Whatever it is, it’s entirely deserving of some massive paw prints in front of a theater.
First off, if the first thing that came to your mind when you thought about The Shaggy Dog was that CGI crapfest that Tim Allen headlined then just get out. Walt Disney’s The Shaggy Dog comes from a time before the company was obsessed with cashing in on cheap, direct-to-video sequels/remakes and it didn’t have any fancy CGI to help its dog drive a car either. Sure, The Shaggy Dog may be the reason we now have terrible spin-off franchises starring dogs that never seem to end since he was pretty much the first animal to do this, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t honor the shag. The shag deserves your respect.
How many dogs have gone toe-to-toe with one of the greatest actors of our time and come out not looking like a fool? Only one: Hooch (AKA Beasley the Dog). One could argue that it was Tom Hanks who really elevated Hooch’s game in Turner and Hooch since he’s good enough to make a volleyball seem like a worthwhile co-star, but those in the know know that Hanks learned a lot from Hooch in terms of comic timing and how to drool. Think of this: Tom Hanks has had to work decades to become the sensation that he is. Hooch, on the other hand, never starred in another film his entire life, but is still a pop culture icon. Clearly that deserves some immortalization.
See that dog up there? He’s going to die, and no matter how many times you rewatch Old Yeller hoping that this time it will end differently it isn’t going to happen. Trust me. I know. No other animal has ever elicited such an emotional response from move theater audiences and few humans have either. One of the most renowned death scenes in cinema history and the dog doesn’t even get to dip one paw into a square of slimey, gray concrete? As the film itself taught us, the world just isn’t fair.
Oh look, an adorable dog in a black and white, silent film where the dog helps his owner become a better person and saves his life. Sound familiar? Scraps did everything Uggie did 100 years ago and he did it in a world that legitimately had no sound (why else would movies be silent?). In fairness to Grauman’s, the Chinese Theater had not even been built yet when Scraps was tearing up the big screen in Charlie Chaplin’s A Dog’s Life, but a prerequisite has now been established and Scraps clearly fits all the requirements. It’s time to posthumously place Scraps’ prints where they belong.
In just one line in the Wizard of Oz Toto single-handedly put Kansas on the map. Before Judy Garland uttered the now famous line, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” there was just a big white empty space on all maps of the U.S.A. On the day the film came out cartographers around the world slapped their heads and simultaneously said, “I knew I forgot something.” Even if Toto hadn’t rescued Kansas from being forgotten he still deserved to plop his tiny paws down. Not only is he one of the most famous dogs ever, he was also the first friend of Dorothy, and thus the first gay dog on screen.
Rowlf is really on here representing the entire Muppet clan, none of whom have ever been honored with hand paw felt-appendage prints in front of a movie theater they’ve routinely featured in films. While they may not be living breathing creatures, Rowlf and his fellow Muppets have done more for animals on screen than most actual animals. Rowlf himself was The Muppets’ first true star when he appeared on The Jimmy Dean Show and even though Kermit stole the crown later on he still deserves to at least have his paws have their time in the sun.
All the other dogs on this list I can explain away with some logic. Rin Tin Tin came along before they’d even got all the humans done. Beethoven would have made a mess. The Shaggy Dog would have gotten hair everywhere. Rowlf isn’t real. Scraps was likely dead. Old Yeller was too depressing. But Lassie? Lassie’s been around so long and in so many different incarnations that I’m surprised at least one of the dogs who played her hasn’t just accidentally stepped in wet cement outside of Grauman’s. There is no way that a dog who starred in multiple movies stretching through seven decades and had a TV series that ran for 19 years didn’t get at least one of her incarnation’s paws forced into some cement.